Our last stop in Australia was in Cairns. We took a relatively uneventful overnight bus from Airlie Beach, save for the fact that we changed drivers in Townsville, and our new driver had Courtney's bag we lost last week. Score!
We arrived at 6:00 in the morning, had a very American breakfast of sausage mcmuffins and hashbrowns, and walked a few blocks to pick up our rental car for the day. In case you weren't aware, they drive on the left side of the road in Australia, and it's absolutely mindblowing when you try it for the first time. Thankfully, I adjusted before I hit anyone or drove down the wrong side, and we were off up the coast, headed for Cape Tribulation and the rainforest.
After stopping at a few choice beach spots along the way, we found ourselves at the Daintree River ferry crossing. We bought ourselves tickets for a crocodile viewing river cruise, entry to the rainforest discovery center, and a round trip on the ferry.
The ferry was really just a barge that pulled itself back and forth across the river by steel cables, but it's the only way out to Cape Tribulation.
The discovery center was a great way to learn a little more about the rainforest without actually tromping through the jungle and ruining the ecosystem. There are suspended walkways throughout, along with a giant tower that takes you from ground level, all the way up to the canopy to show you what is going on at each level of the rainforest. There was also an audioguide so you can learn at your own pace.
After that, it was up for a leisurely drive through the rainforest, all the while looking out for the elusive cassowary. They're kind of like an ostrich, but with a blue head and giant talons for ripping your guts out.
We made it all the way up to Cape Trib and took a walk along the boardwalk to the overlook before scarfing down the sandwiches we brought for lunch.
Oh shit! Our croc tour is in an hour and guess how far it is to the ferry crossing? Zooming down windy jungle roads without actually knowing how fast you are going because its all in kilometers and I'm too distracted being on the wrong side of the road to do math conversions is actually sort of terrifying. We pulled up to the ferry just in time to see it head to the other side of the river and sat there wringing our hands, watching the river boat on the other side of the river, hoping we would make it in time.
We did, and the river tour was awesome! Saw a few crocs, including, "Oooo... That's a big fella. He's about three and a half meters long. He's new to these parts, and he's got no scarring on his head and all of his teeth, which means he hasn't lost a fight to another croc yet. It also means he hasn't met Scarface, our four and a half meter croc which is the dominate male in these parts. Should be a good tussle when they finally meet."
On our way back, we stopped at a small winery that only makes wine from tropical fruits instead of grapes. We went in for a tasting and were blown away by the different flavors of wine and port. We ended up leaving with a ginger and orange wine that the owner said would pair perfectly with Thai food.
We also ended up pulling over because we saw a whole field of wallabies! There were dozens of them, and they all started hoping around when we walked up. It was awesome.
We had a private room at our hostel, AND OUR OWN BATHROOM! Our first private bathroom of our entire trip. It felt like 5-star luxury even though it was still a backpackers hostel.
We spent the next day wandering around Cairns and took a long walk down the boardwalk and the saltwater lagoon they had. Airlie Beach and Cairns have large public lagoons right next to the beach because the ocean is filled with crocodiles and deadly jellyfish. Not the best place for a swim.
Afterwards, we hopped on a shuttle and headed to the airport. I'm gonna miss Australia, but we are already making plans to come back, and we still have months of traveling left. I can't wait to see what Asia has in store for us!